Thursday, August 28, 2014

Blintz Breakfast Bake (THM - S)

A few weeks ago, a friend on FB shared a Blintz Breakfast Casserole, and as I looked at the recipe, I thought, "I could totally THM-ify that!" I tried out a half batch (8x8 pan) and shared it with the THM group, and it was very well received :) I've made it twice since, and can confirm that it does freeze/reheat well, so here's the full sized version.  I also took additional pictures of the process, as some ladies mentioned they were having difficulty with the layers, but hopefully the photos make it easier to understand.  It's a nice option when you want something "fancy" for breakfast, but with very affordable ingredients.  Add some more sweetener, and it can easily become a dessert.

Blintz Breakfast Bake (S)
1 cup cottage cheese
8 oz package of neufchatel (reduced fat cream cheese), at room temp
1 tsp vanilla
2 doonks* of pure white stevia powder
2 eggs
1/4 c coconut flour
1/3 c golden flax meal (slightly heaping)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used nonfat, but higher fat would be fine, too)
1/4 c Truvia (or erythritol or xylitol)**
1/2 c butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract (or another extract of your choice; the original recipe called for orange juice so I initially used orange extract, but I actually prefer the almond)
1/2 c almond milk
8 eggs
Preheat oven to 325 if using a glass pan, or 350 if using a metal pan, and grease 9x13 pan. Pour topping ingredients into blender and puree, then set aside. In a bowl, combine the first 4 base ingredients, and use a fork to remove any clumps. Add all remaining ingredients and stir together (a few small lumps are OK). Pour into pan, then gently pour/spoon topping over (it will swirl together somewhat, and that’s fine). Bake for about 50 minutes, until center is set, then let stand for at least 5 minutes. Top with on-plan jam or fresh berries.
*most pure stevia powders come with a teensy little scoop that measures 1/32 tsp, which somehow came to be called a doonk
**you could use stevia here as well, just microwave a Tbsp or so of the batter so you can taste it before baking and adjust sweetness as desired.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Daughter's Video Diary

I was clearing the emptying the camera's SD card when I discovered this gem from our daughter: her documentation that she really did empty the dishwasher.  Too funny not to share.  Please excuse the piles on the kitchen counters.

Another school year!


I don't know how it's possible, but our firstborn is now in middle school. Whoa.  He still likes it after two days :)  The big highlight on Monday was riding the bus - he's been longing to do this ever since kindergarten, but this is the first time that we finally are in a bussing zone.  I walked with (well, behind) him Monday morning just to make sure everything went OK - it's a whole quarter mile away, but there's no sidewalk (and drivers usually are doing about 10 over the speed limit on that stretch) but all was well. He's in pre-AP (advanced level) classes for all his regular academics, which will be a stretch, but we think he can handle it.  One thing I love about living in a smaller town is how you know about certain teachers & such... his math teacher attends a local church and we have several mutual friends, and his language arts teacher actually goes to our church. Seriously, how awesome is that? I have to admit that I had a few qualms about sending him off this year, but I know he's in God's hands.  There's also a YoungLife group that meets on Monday evenings, so he'll be checking that out -- looking forward to getting him better connected with some fabulous kids.

Daughter is now in 4th, and was happy to be back with her friends, and is very much looking forward to starting up GT (the Gifted - Talented program) next week.

Just have to share these for fun. I took the kids for haircut on Thursday (and that was right before the stylist started chopping away at the back of A's hair - she decided she was ready for something different).  D finished first, and he was reading a Calvin & Hobbes book that I had snagged for a quarter on the library the previous week.  This was his first introduction to the mischievous boy & his tiger sidekick, and he couldn't stop laughing at their antics.  He's not a big reader, so anytime he gets pulled into a book it's a win :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Here Kitty, Kitty

So while the kids were at camp, the hubby & I enjoyed a little time alone - nice to put aside the Mom & Dad responsibilities for a few days :)  As part of our staycation, we decided we would try to find a cat.  Our son has been asking for one for a couple years now - we got the gerbils two years ago as a "fuzzy pet that can be held but requires minimal attention" compromise, and decided we were ready to move up the pet ladder.  We did not tell the kids we were doing this, as we didn't want them to be disappointed if we did not find one that was a good fit.  I had a list of musts: female, already spayed, at least a year old, friendly and even-tempered, and preferably de-clawed.  We went to the humane society on Tuesday, and they had lots of kittens and adult males, but only a few females, and none of them were very friendly.  We went back on Wednesday "just in case," and ended up finding her (she was in the back getting checked when we were there the day before).  She is not de-clawed, but was very friendly right out of the holding cell, and hubby even said she was OK (and considering that he was describing a cat, that's high praise!)

So we did the necessary paperwork, did a quick run to the store to buy food, litter box, etc. and then picked up our newest family member.  I took her to the vet the next morning, and it turns out she had a mild intestinal parasite.  Nothing like adopting a pet and then having to give it medicine for ten days.  Giving a dose of oral liquid is definitely a two person job.

Anyway, we had her about twenty eight hours before the kids came back home - she had no idea what she was in for.  D was the first one in the house, and he noticed her food dish right away and gave me a puzzled look.  He then took another step and saw the litter box, then in a squeaky voice (he'd lots most of it from all the yelling at camp) said, "We got a cat?!?!?" I was standing right behind him - he gave me a huge hug, and then asked, "Where is it?!" A was right behind me and was excitedly but cautiously peering around, also looking for her (one reason we decided to go ahead and get a cat is because she is still super jumpy around animals, and we figured it would be good for her to have a pet of her own).  Anyway, both kids were super excited to see her all nestled into a chair across the room...

We named her Opal, and she's about two years old. We have no idea what breed she is, but probably some Siamese in there somewhere just because of those gorgeous blue eyes.  She's pretty mellow and very tolerant of D's attentions. She is not declawed, but so far she's not tearing up our couches or anything.  We did buy her a nifty little scratching post, but the kids play with it more than she does ;)

It's still kind of surreal.  Honestly, I prefer dogs, but our back yard has very little grass, plus it's so stinkin' hot most of the year that I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving it out all day if we were gone.  Cats? Well, they might be snooty but at least they're lower maintenance.  We'll see how this goes.  I was joking around with a friend that we've been married 18 years and have two kids, so now we're finally ready to commit to a pet. Yeah, we do things a little differently than most...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kids Camp!

Last Monday our kids headed up to Austin for a three day church camp (same church where they did music camp; they also go to AWANA there, since ours doesn't have many kids' programs).  I just have these few photos (mostly snapped by friends of friends on FB) but still wanted to share them. They really enjoyed themselves - the days were packed with fun activities, as well as rockin' worship and a lively speaker that they really enjoyed.  It also gave the hubby & I some time alone together.  Wonderful -- and kind of weird ;)  Our house was eerily quiet for those days, and I must admit I was happy to pick our goobers up again on Thursday evening.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kids Musical

Our kiddos attended a music camp last week; they worked on the musical part each morning, and then had fun outings each afternoon.  They both really enjoyed themselves, although D was not super excited about the actual performance part (which was Sunday evening). Well, yesterday after church he kept saying he wasn't feeling well.  He didn't eat much for lunch and was unusually quiet, but I shrugged it off thinking he was just trying to get out of singing (we'd already had a few discussions about that).  Around 3, I noticed he was feeling very warm, so decided to take his temp. 102.  Took it again thirty minutes later, and it was clear that he truly did have a fever.

A had a small solo in the program (check out the video!) and D sat beside me watching.  The whole performance was great - I was really impressed that the kids pulled that off in just a week, complete with motions.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Some Thoughts on Healthy Living

So I've been THMing for over ten months now. Wow, I can't believe that!  I've tried so many stinkin' "diets," and I usually burn out by the six month mark, tired of counting calories, measuring portions, and never feeling full...

My weight loss has really slowed in the past three months, but that's OK.  The crazy thing is that even though that number on the scale isn't moving much, my body is continuing to change.  I just did another round of purging in my closet - the clothes that I couldn't wear when I started this journey are now falling off.  I've run out of notches in my belts, and even my shoes are looser.  That's amazing.

So what have I learned from this journey? (so far)
  • I firmly believe that weight is 90% what you're eating; I'm not saying that exercise doesn't play a part in your health (good for your heart, building muscle helps metabolism and prevents bone loss, etc.) but you do *not* need to work out an hour a day to start losing weight.  You are in charge of what goes in your mouth, and the majority of us Americans choose convenient crap rather than REAL food.
  • It's about making small, good choices consistently.  You'll mess up, and that's OK. Don't use it as an excuse to write off the day/week/month and drown your sorrows in a box of doughnuts.
  • Although it's overwhelming at first, it really and truly does get easier.  If someone had told me a year ago that I'd be completely sugar free, I would have rolled my eyes and started laughing.  I still enjoy sweets (made with stevia, erythritol, and/or xylitol - stop and think about that acronym!) but I'm no longer controlled by my cravings.  No, I'm not overstating that - if I had a taste of something, all I could think about was how I could have MORE.  Food is definitely my drug of choice.  Which leads me to:
  • Sometimes moderation is not an option.  I had to completely cut sugar out before my cravings started going away.  That's tough since sugar hides in everything; I used to say that I ate pretty healthy, and I've always made a lot of our food, but I didn't realize how much junk was hiding in the stuff like BBQ sauce and salad dressings.
  • Having support is HUGE.  I'm truly blessed to have a group of ladies locally; we've been meeting for over two years now. We come from very different backgrounds and are all at different places in our health journey, but what a blessing to have a safe place to gripe, ask for prayer and share recipes.  I've also found that I enjoy the online community; there's a FB group specifically for those following THM who have over 50 pounds to lose, and it's great to know I can post there and that those ladies get it.
  • It's important to pay attention to YOUR body.  We're all different, and what works for one person may not work for another.  That's actually one thing I love about THM - it's NOT "Here's your eating plan for the next week." I've learned I do better with a minimum of six E meals weekly (Energizing: 25-45 grams of healthy carbs along with a good lowfat protein, i.e. grilled chicken breast with brown rice or pork loin with beets) although the S meals (Satisfying: these are fattier meals, very similar to Atkins) sure are tasty!
A few Non-Scale Victories (NSVs, as we like to refer to them online) I've noticed - beyond needing smaller clothes :)
  • My skin has really improved!  I've always had acne - not as severe as when I was a teen, but annoying nonetheless.  I also have mild rosacea. The photo above is me without makeup. 
  • Speaking of that photo: it's a selfie I took because I mentioned getting a new haircut, and a long-distance friend wanted to see it. I hate selfies - I shoot a whole bunch of pictures, but then hate looking at them (my chin, my cheeks, whatever!) Well, I only shot two tonight (and I had my eyes closed in the first one, LOL). Confidence increasing, self loathing decreasing!
  • My nails are stronger.
  • My arthritic knees hurt less (I used to pop 800 mg of ibuprofen each morning to help manage the inflammation, but haven't done that in months).
  • Much fewer headaches.
  • Increased energy levels.
  • Sucking in my gut in to scooch through a tight space only to discover it wasn't necessary :)
  • My feet don't smell bad anymore!  This is the one that has surprised me the most - never considered that might be related to my diet.
But a word of warning - I'm becoming one of those crazy people, you know: those annoying friends who talk way too much about whatever it is they're into.  I was chatting with a casual friend yesterday who's had some gallbladder issues.  She asked me some questions about the way I was eating, and I then asked her if she was taking any supplements, such as ox bile.  As soon as I said it, I stopped and had one of those, "Whoa, where did that just come from?!" moments.  Yes, I am still reading all sorts of things about nutrition, and apparently more of it is soaking in than I realized!

Anyway, I am still very much a devotee of THM.  Someone online was complaining that it was too hard with all the rules. I completely disagree - I have found it liberating to learn the basic principles and tweak them to fit our lives.  I was pretty strict with eating on plan the first six months, and even managed to do well while hubby was in the hospital (on a side note, if that had happened a year prior, I probably would have gained 10-15 pounds during that period as I would have sought solace in baked goods).  We went on vacation earlier this month, and there were a few meals where I really and truly couldn't eat entirely on plan - and that was OK.  I did the best I could and kept moving on -- I didn't inhale a plate of fries, but I did eat a couple.  I even had a Wendy's frosty; I wasn't sure how I would feel after that, but I was fine.  I have noticed that when I choose to have something like delivery pizza or a fast food burger, I'll get bloated and my face usually breaks out about three days later. Fascinating.  It's not a gluten issue (I do use some low carb wraps and tortillas for convenience sake, and they are not gluten free), but there's obviously something in the white flour that my body does not care for. 

Oh, the things I'm learning!